When someone joins ‘The 27 Club’, when musicians die at the age of 27. It is a general assumption that they joined this dubious group though their own actions (drug overdose, suicide etc), however there is one desperately sad exception. Mia Zapata.
During the early 90’s, alternative rock (featuring Grunge, but not exclusively) was widespread and extremely popular. For the first time in Alt Rock history, music that had not been viewed by the recording industry as ‘commercial’ or ‘radio friendly’ was not only featuring on mainstream radio but outselling some of more pop acts. One of those bands who were enjoying an increase of popularity was Seattle banded band ‘The Gits’ a grunge band fronted by the vibrant and charismatic Mia Zapata. Those lucky enough to see ‘The Gits’ often remarked that Mia had a fantastic onstage persona (in contrast to her more shy side off stage). During Zapata’s lifetime, 2 albums were released; Frenching the Bully (1992) and Enter: the Conquering Chicken (1993). Sadly Zapata never got to grow and develop her music or expand her fan base.
On the 7th July 1993, Zapata had been on a night out with friends in Seattle, walking home she was raped and murdered. She was just 27 years old. Despite the best efforts of the Seattle PD, they were unable to find Zapata’s killer (DNA was not as sophisticated as it is now). What is especially touching about Zapata’s case is that the local community truly came together to do everything possible to keep Mia’s case open. Member of ‘The Gits’ hired a private investigator to find more leads, funded by Seattle bands including Pearl Jam and Nirvana with concerts. Joan Jett was heavily involved with raising funds for the PD and recording music with the surviving members of ‘The Gits’ called Evil Stig (Gits Live spelt backwards). A wonderful legacy from Zapata’s death was the creation of ‘Home Safe’, a scheme to teach women self defense. Even though it has since disbanded, it shows the esteem Mia was held in that those closest to her. That something positive to keep others safe and not suffer the same fate as Zapata was done in her memory.
Fortunately, Zapata’s murderer was caught in 2oo3, Jesus Mezquia was identified through DNA left on Zapata’s body thanks to his sample being on file from a domestic assault and burglary charge. He is serving 36years in prison. Now he can never hurt any other women and Mia can now rest in peace. It is beyond sad that Mia never got to fulfil her potential but she gave plenty of joy to those who knew her and to her fans.